The Increasingly Hysterical Attempts to Drum Up a War on Christmas

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 10:39 EDT
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This entire rant by Bill O’Reilly and unnamed bald guest got a lot of play recently for the fact that gays and all those abortion-lovers are the ones supposedly behind the non-existence “War on Christmas”, but I’d like to take a moment to honor the “misanthropic atheists” part of all this:

Pro-tip: If you’re spewing as much rage-induced spittle as these morons, it’s unwise to accuse anyone else of being misanthropic. As Atrios notes, right wingers are “rage addicts”. Without misanthropy, O’Reilly wouldn’t have an audience.

Considering that they’re fighting a made-up “war”, they might as well have made-up enemies. None of the atheists they hate actually think they’re going to destroy Christmas by asking the government to obey the First Amendment and not use public resources to endorse Christianity. It will still dominate the radio waves, TV shows, magazines, and consumerist spaces like shops and malls. Indeed, most atheists don’t even care if the government has a generic “holiday season” kind of thing going on, such as draping tinsel on stuff. (I invariably get one or two crotchety types that do want Christmas itself to go away protesting that they exist, so there you go: Your tiny minority is acknowledged. Enjoy.) Most atheists celebrate some kind of holiday, usually the one they grew up with, but they just do it in a way that’s not religious. That’s how much of a strawman Fox News is spending hours and hours bashing in an attempt to scare their shockingly gullible audience.

Fox News hyping the mythical “War on Christmas” has been really amped up this year, it seems, after a couple of years of relatively quiet coverage that made me think their audience was beginning to clue into the fact that it’s all made up. But losing the election made them turn the volume way up on these strawman attacks, and the only reason I can imagine why is that they don’t know what else to do. It’s clear that a majority of the country sees right through their horseshit, and the only thing they can think of to do is double down.

Well, as a skeptic and an avid observer of various myths and hysterias that have taken off in the past, I have to say that this strategy doesn’t have the best track record. I like to think of right wing nuttery in the same way I think of believing in UFOs, the conspiracy to assassinate JFK, or Bigfoot. There is a tendency for the hardcore believers to double down when the public starts to become skeptical of their claims, but this isn’t an effective strategy to grow their ranks. On the contrary, doubling down just means you start saying things that are even more implausible, casting even more doubt on your original claims. The more assassins you put near the book depository, in other words, the sillier you sound.

Past right wing successes, in fact, were often the result of conservatives learning to dial it down a little, to wrap their nutty ideas in a cloak of plausibility. They weren’t crazy anti-sex nutters! They just love “life”. They are irrational racists! They just want “law and order”. They aren’t trying to terminate the right to vote of people going against them! They just don’t like “voter fraud”. And so on. But now it’s just spewing conspiracy theories about imaginary people waging war on Christmas. Not really the best look for them. I hope they keep it up.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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